Once more into the breach

Yesterday, my sister quit her job, a position she’s held for close to 12 years. This was a big step for Laurie, and there was lots of anxiety in the build up to issuing the news to her executive director. That she’s going to a great new job that pretty much screams her name was almost secondary, as she twisted in distress waiting for the signed offer letter. She wanted to tell her boss, now, and get it over with.

I’ve been there myself, and it’s kind of like breaking up. There are a lot of theorists out there that suggest that what drives our anxiety around these types of scenarios is the prospect of looking bad, selfish, ungrateful or worse, stupid. For me, it goes right back to fear. We’re afraid of how the person receiving our news will react. This is true in many scenarios, from quitting our jobs to delivering bad news to employees to negotiating a business deal, especially one that involves money.

This is how I (try) to deal with it (because I’m not always successful). I think about the worst experience I’ve ever had that is even remotely related to what I’m about to do – so in the case of resigning, I think about the first time I quit a job. In that case, it was with a small company and my boss (who also owned that company) took it really personally. It got ugly, really ugly. The chance of that happening again at the same level of emotional intensity is slim because I learned from that experience, and choose not to put myself in similar scenarios. So nothing can be as bad as that. With this in mind, I suck it up and step into the breach. In most cases, it turns out fine, and the anxiety I had preceding the delivery of the message was worse than delivering the message itself.

Just ask Laurie. She survived. So will you.